Wade expects Tejada in spring training

January 18, 2008 2:50:25 PM PST
Houston Astros general manager Ed Wade said Friday he expects Miguel Tejada to show up at spring training, despite an FBI inquiry into whether the former AL MVP lied to authorities about possible steroid use. "Obviously, there are issues right now that have to be addressed by others," Wade said during a stop on the Astros' publicity tour. "Really, from a club standpoint, there's nothing we can do to get involved at this stage, other than to remain optimistic that things will work out and he'll be with us at spring training and for the life of his contract, at the very least."

Houston's first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 19. A call to Fernando Cuza, Tejada's agent, wasn't immediately returned.

The Astros acquired Tejada on Dec. 12 in a trade that sent five players to Baltimore. The four-time All-Star shortstop, named the AL MVP in 2002 with Oakland, has two years left on a six-year, $72 million contract.

The day after the trade was announced, Tejada was named and linked to steroid use in the Mitchell Report.

In August 2005, Tejada told House committee investigators that he never used illegal performance-enhancing drugs or knew of other players using or talking about steroids.

But the report said former Orioles teammate Adam Piatt claimed that he gave steroids to Tejada in 2003, and the report includes checks for $3,100 and $3,200 purportedly written by Tejada to Piatt.

Wade said the Astros never knew before the trade that Tejada would be mentioned in the report and had no suspicions that Tejada was linked to steroids.

"We do our homework as best as we possibly can on any trade that we make," Wade said. "We had no advance knowledge of what was in the Mitchell Report. Any information contained in that was news to us."

On Thursday, the FBI announced it had opened a preliminary inquiry about Tejada. The inquiry, in response to a congressional request, amounts to an initial look at facts surrounding the case.

Wade said no federal authorities have contacted the Astros. "We haven't had any involvement in this whatsoever," he said. "We made a baseball trade at the winter meetings and at this point, we're hopeful this will all resolve itself."

Tejada, who's playing winter league ball in his native Dominican Republic, has not been charged with anything.

His older brother, Fredyy, was killed in a motorcycle accident Tuesday, the day former Sen. George Mitchell, baseball commissioner Bud Selig and players union representative Donald Fehr testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to discuss Mitchell's report.

Wade said the Astros sent Julio Linares, who oversees the team's scouting in the Dominican Republic, to Tejada's home to offer condolences after his brother was killed. Wade hasn't met Tejada, but planned to fly to the country in the coming weeks.

"I know he's got a lot of different things running through his mind right now," Wade said.

At the time, the trade seemed like a pivotal upgrade for the Astros, who ranked 13th in the NL last year in runs scored (4.46 per game). Tejada batted .294 with 18 home runs and 81 RBIs for the Orioles last season.

"We thought it was a smart baseball trade," Wade said. "We think he's got a chance to really be a key component to our ballclub. From the standpoint of our decision-making process, we felt like it was the right decision to make and we still feel that way."

Wade would not get into the alternatives if Tejada is forced to miss playing time to cooperate with federal authorities. The Astros did not offer a new contract to Adam Everett, their regular shortstop for the past five seasons, and he signed with Minnesota.

Mark Loretta played shortstop in 72 games last season, most of them after Everett broke his leg. Houston has also acquired Kaz Matsui and Geoff Blum, who can also play the position.

"I'm going to remain optimistic that this is an issue that will resolve and we'll have the club on the field that we anticipate having on the field when we made these trades," Wade said.

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